'The Old Man': Gbenga Akinnagbe On How The FX Series Teaches A Valuable Lesson About Facing Your Past
Photo Credit: Kurt Iswarienko/FX
Interviews , Television

'The Old Man': Gbenga Akinnagbe On How The FX Series Teaches A Valuable Lesson About Facing Your Past

With an interesting twist on the spy genre, The Old Man is the newest FX series sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Centered around a CIA operative, Dan Chase (Jeff Bridges), who has been in hiding for years, the series showcases what it means to completely live off the grid, however, when one is doing so to avoid facing reality, trouble is sure to follow. Gbenga Akinnagbe recently spoke with Shadow and Act to discuss the inner workings of his character, Julian, throughout the limited series based on the homonymous novel by Thomas Perry,

No stranger to projects centered around the inner dealings of the government, such as the culture’s beloved The Wire, Akinnagbe explains how his latest role is completely different than anything that fans have ever seen him in before.

"This project is different," Akinnagbe told us during our chat.

“We’re playing between time periods and there’s a group of people who are trying hard not to do very violent things,” he continued. “And then there’s this tension and restraint in between and that is palpable. It’s jarring and it makes me lean forward to watch. In other shows I’ve been a part of, there have been a few characters like that, but in this series, everyone is trying hard to not be their worst selves. You see it right underneath the surface.”

With previous experience from other projects, Akinnagbe had to lean into former military and weapons training for his role in The Old Man, which was coupled with lots of solitude and searching.

"I think life went into preparation for this role, just having those elements be a part of who I am and my journey," he revealed.

“We had a great former Special Forces operator on set training us and a great stunt team. Also, the writing and throwing yourself right into it alongside the cast [played factors into why I chose this role].

Julian is a reflection not only to Akinnagbe, but those watching, that there is “almost nothing sadder than wasted talent.”

“One of the valuable lessons I learned from Julian was to try to exercise all of your talents,” he continued. “There’s almost nothing sadder than wasted talent. It’ll eat away at you one way or another.”

"There's almost nothing sadder than wasted talent. It'll eat away at you one way or another," Akinnagbe explained.

“Also, value your loved ones, you know, hold them close. Julian’s dealing with that, but especially now with everything that’s going on in the world, mass shooting after mass shooting, tomorrow’s not promised to anybody,” the actor added.

His role in the series also offered the opportunity for him to work alongside fellow actors that he’s looked up to over the years. Starring both Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow, the action-packed show is a dream come true for Akinnagbe.

“It’s amazing to watch Jeff. Jeff is like one of the last Hollywood legends and rightfully so because he does beautiful work,” the 43-year-old actor. “I feel fortunate to be able to not only be in scenes and work with him, but to be able to watch him on set and soak in how he works. It’s easy to get lost in watching him do his thing. It was similar with John Lithgow, just watching him do his thing. We didn’t get to work [together] on set, but I’ve been a fan of his for many, many years. It’s just humbling to be in the same series with them both.”


Watch the full interview below:


The Old Man airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. FX and streams the next day on Hulu.

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